Nicola Bulley’s partner questioned about ‘enemies and stalker’

Nicola Bulley: Superintendent provides update on case

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Nicola Bulley’s partner, Paul Ansell has been questioned about the missing mother’s “enemies or stalkers” as fears grow that she may have been kidnapped. The 45-year-old mother disappeared on January 27 while taking her dog for a walk along the River Wyre in Lancashire after she dropped her two children off at school. Specialist Group International (SGI), an underwater forensic team, was called in this week and has spent the last two days scouring the river with a sophisticated sonar.

Despite a major police search in the section of the river where detectives believe she fell in, Mr Ansell’s partner has still not been found.

Firm chief Peter Faulding spoke to Paul after the first day’s search on Monday night. He described the 44-year-old father as “distraught,” but said he was eager to update him on his team’s development.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr Faulding said: “I spoke to Paul last night and asked him if she had any enemies, any stalkers, the normal questions you would ask.

“And nothing, he said no. And she was totally normal that day when she left, nothing out of the ordinary.”

Mr Faulding, who was called in by the family and is assisting police with the search, added: “We’ve done very thorough searches all the way down to the weir. Police divers have dived it three times, extremely thoroughly.

“That area is completely negative – there is no sign of Nicola in that area. The main focus will be the police investigation down the river, which leads out to the estuary. If Nicola was in that river I would have found her – I guarantee you that – and she’s not in that section of the river.

“I’m totally baffled by this one, to be honest,” said Mr Faulding, whose team used a £55,000 side-scan sonar capable of picking up items underwater.

The inconclusive search leads the Firm chief to believe Ms Bulley may not have been swept out to sea.

“My personal view is that I think it is a long way to go in a tidal river,” he said.

Ms Bulley’s partner went to the location where authorities think she fell into the River Wyre on Wednesday. Paul Ansell stayed for ten minutes along the riverbank next to the bench where his partner’s phone was found still ringing for a Microsoft Teams business call.

The 60-year-old expert Mr Faulding who was present at the scene on Wednesday is known for quickly solving difficult cases. He predicted that if Nicola fell into the river at the bench, his sonar would find her in minutes.

But since she vanished on January 27, the mother of two has left no traces, leaving Mr Faulding baffled.

He told LBC: “She’s just disappeared like she’s been taken by aliens.”

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he said: “I personally think if I rule this stretch of the river out today where we’re working I don’t think she’s here, I think there’s probably a third party involved.”

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Superintendent Sally Riley played down Mr Faulding’s theories and maintained his position Ms Bulley may have fallen into the river. 

He said: “I thank SGI for the help they’ve given to the team. Our search has not found Nicola in the river and any research done in parts by SGI found the same.

“That does not mean that Nicola has not been in the river. And in light of other inquiries being discounted from the investigation so far – although we are keeping an open mind to anything new – then clearly our main belief is that Nicola did fall into the river.

“Clearly Mr Faulding isn’t included in all the investigation detail any more than the members of the public are that I’m briefing through these sorts of press conferences.

“We would ask that we be allowed time to continue with those inquiries and release to the public only what is relevant.”

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